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      Suspected and Confirmed Vector-Borne Rickettsioses of North America Associated with Human Diseases

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          The identification of pathogenic rickettsial agents has expanded over the last two decades. In North America, the majority of human cases are caused by tick-borne rickettsioses but rickettsiae transmitted by lice, fleas, mites and other arthropods are also responsible for clinical disease. Symptoms are generally nonspecific or mimic other infectious diseases; therefore, diagnosis and treatment may be delayed. While infection with most rickettsioses is relatively mild, delayed diagnosis and treatment may lead to increased morbidity and mortality. This review will discuss the ecology, epidemiology and public health importance of suspected and confirmed vector-transmitted Rickettsia species of North America associated with human diseases.

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          Rickettsia parkeri: a newly recognized cause of spotted fever rickettsiosis in the United States.

          Ticks, including many that bite humans, are hosts to several obligate intracellular bacteria in the spotted fever group (SFG) of the genus Rickettsia. Only Rickettsia rickettsii, the agent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, has been definitively associated with disease in humans in the United States. Herein we describe disease in a human caused by Rickettsia parkeri, an SFG rickettsia first identified >60 years ago in Gulf Coast ticks (Amblyomma maculatum) collected from the southern United States. Confirmation of the infection was accomplished using serological testing, immunohistochemical staining, cell culture isolation, and molecular methods. Application of specific laboratory assays to clinical specimens obtained from patients with febrile, eschar-associated illnesses following a tick bite may identify additional cases of R. parkeri rickettsiosis and possibly other novel SFG rickettsioses in the United States.
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            Rickettsial pathogens and their arthropod vectors.

             A. Azad,  C. B. Beard (1998)
            Rickettsial diseases, important causes of illness and death worldwide, exist primarily in endemic and enzootic foci that occasionally give rise to sporadic or seasonal outbreaks. Rickettsial pathogens are highly specialized for obligate intracellular survival in both the vertebrate host and the invertebrate vector. While studies often focus primarily on the vertebrate host, the arthropod vector is often more important in the natural maintenance of the pathogen. Consequently, coevolution of rickettsiae with arthropods is responsible for many features of the host-pathogen relationship that are unique among arthropod-borne diseases, including efficient pathogen replication, long-term maintenance of infection, and transstadial and transovarial transmission. This article examines the common features of the host-pathogen relationship and of the arthropod vectors of the typhus and spotted fever group rickettsiae.
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              Rocky Mountain spotted fever from an unexpected tick vector in Arizona.

              Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a life-threatening, tick-borne disease caused by Rickettsia rickettsii. This disease is rarely reported in Arizona, and the principal vectors, Dermacentor species ticks, are uncommon in the state. From 2002 through 2004, a focus of Rocky Mountain spotted fever was investigated in rural eastern Arizona. We obtained blood and tissue specimens from patients with suspected Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ticks from patients' homesites. Serologic, molecular, immunohistochemical, and culture assays were performed to identify the causative agent. On the basis of specific laboratory criteria, patients were classified as having confirmed or probable Rocky Mountain spotted fever infection. A total of 16 patients with Rocky Mountain spotted fever infection (11 with confirmed and 5 with probable infection) were identified. Of these patients, 13 (81 percent) were children 12 years of age or younger, 15 (94 percent) were hospitalized, and 2 (12 percent) died. Dense populations of Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks were found on dogs and in the yards of patients' homesites. All patients with confirmed Rocky Mountain spotted fever had contact with tick-infested dogs, and four had a reported history of tick bite preceding the illness. R. rickettsii DNA was detected in nonengorged R. sanguineus ticks collected at one home, and R. rickettsii isolates were cultured from these ticks. This investigation documents the presence of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in eastern Arizona, with common brown dog ticks (R. sanguineus) implicated as a vector of R. rickettsii. The broad distribution of this common tick raises concern about its potential to transmit R. rickettsii in other settings. Copyright 2005 Massachusetts Medical Society.

                Author and article information

                Trop Med Infect Dis
                Trop Med Infect Dis
                Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
                03 January 2018
                March 2018
                : 3
                : 1
                [1 ]Vector-Borne Disease Section, California Department of Public Health, 850 Marina Bay Parkway, Richmond, CA 94804, USA; melissa.yoshimizu@
                [2 ]Vector-Borne Disease Section, California Department of Public Health, 2151 Convention Center Way Suite 218B, Ontario, CA 91764, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: sarah.billeter@ ; Tel.: +1-(909)-937-3443; Fax: +1-(909)-937-3456
                © 2018 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


                ticks, rickettiosis, rickettsia, north america, mites, fleas, arthropods


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